Mitkov and Liang Top the 26th Annual Midwest Class

Awonder Liang at the U.S. Junior Championship, where he ultimately won clear 1st. Photo: US Championship Website

The 26thAnnual Midwest Class Championship was held from October 6th to 8th in the Chicago suburb of Wheeling, IL and drew 333 players pursuing the $20,000 guaranteed prize fund.   The Premier section featured four GMs, two IMs, seven FMs, and a total of 30 of the 57 players were rated over 2200.

In round one, the tournament started in a fairly normal fashion.  All of the titled players won their games, and there were very few upsets at all.  However, in round two of both the 2-day and the 3-day schedules, there were numerous draws on the top boards, and the number of perfect scores dwindled very rapidly.

When the merge occurred, there were only five players at 2-0:  GM Nikola Mitkov, IM Angelo Young, FM Zhaozhi (George) Li, FM Justus Williams, and NM Aydin Turgut.

IM Young entered the tournament with a half point bye scheduled for round 3, so only boards one and two would have perfect scores in round 3.  Mitkov defeated Justus Williams to emerge as the only perfect score as Li and Turgut drew.

This setup a significant logjam going into Sunday.  While Mitkov was the only player at 3-0, he was closely followed by twelve players at 2 ½ points.  There were no quick draws in round four as the sheer number of players at 2 ½ points forced players to press for wins.

Board one did end in a draw after several hours of play as Mitkov drew with GM Priyadharshan Kannappan.  On board two, GM Awonder Liang defeated FM Gauri Shanker to catch up with Mitkov.  Also joining the leader group was IM Eric Rosen, who defeated NM Gopal Menon, and NM Jacob Furfine, who defeated FM Mauro Ampie.

This set up an interesting round five finale.  There were four players at 3 ½:  GMs Liang and Mitkov, IM Rosen and NM Furfine.  The GMs would both have black in the last round.  Because there were ten players sitting at 3-1, the difference between a win and a draw would be substantial.

Liang beat IM Rosen on board one to secure his piece of first place.

On board two, Mitkov defeated Furfine to secure the tie for first.  Both Mitkov and Liang earned $1500 for their efforts, with Mitkov winning an additional $100 for better tiebreaks.

The Midwest Class is designed slightly differently than other class tournaments.  The sections are all 400 points (well actually 399), and players must play in a section according to their rating (no playing up).  However, the option to play up is already built in because the rating ranges overlap:  1700-2099, 1500-1999, 1300-1699, 1100-1599, Under 1300 and Under 1100.  A player has two sections to choose from.  If he chooses one section, he will be in the bottom half of the 400 point range, but if he chooses the other, he would be in the top half of the 400 point range.

The 1700-2099 section featured one of the tournament’s 5-0 scores.  Tom Bareket was rated at 1858 and was seeded at 18th of the 37 players.  He could have opted for the 1500-1999 section and been in the top half.  However, he chose the 1700-2099 and was in the bottom half.  It didn’t matter, though, as he went 5-0 and took clear first place.  He only needed a draw in the last round to take clear first, but he won to finish with a perfect score pulling off three upsets in the process and gaining 126 rating points in the process.

The other 5-0 score came from the Under 1100 section and also featured a player from the lower half of the wall chart.   Samuel Harris was rated 803 and was seeded 27th of the 54 players.  He was paired up all five rounds and went 5-0, picking up 363 rating points!  His first place was worth $500 and his 5-0 score paced his mixed doubles team to clear first and earned him another $400!

The section winners were:


Tom Bareket, 5-0, $1400


William Blackman & Tuoyu Yang, 4 ½ – ½. $1050


Samuel Horvath, Kenneth Kotowsky, & Harry Heller, 4 ½ – ½. $800


Rohit Guha, Patrick Mccluskey, & Hunter Reed, 4 ½ – ½, $733.33

Under 1300

Alexander Griffin, 4 ½ – ½. $1000

Under 1100

Samuel Harris, 5-0, $500

Mixed Doubles

Samuel Harris & Ramya Elangovan, 8 ½ -1 ½, $400 each

Blitz Tournament

FM Zhaozhi Li, 8-0, $150

            NTD David Hater directed for CCA assisted by Jeff Wiewel, Bill Buklis, and Steve Plotnick.

Full tournament details can be found at

Previous Continental Chess tournaments can be found at the Continental Chess website at


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